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Brief Encounter voted most-romantic film ever made (despite the lack of sex or happy ending)

Very little schmaltz on Time Out's 101 ten best romantic films
  • @matildbattersby

It contains no sex and no happy ending but Brief Encounter has been named the most-romantic film ever made in a new poll.

The film, starring Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard as a couple who fall madly in love despite both being married and having families – and end up restraining themselves for the good of their unloved spouses- , came first in a survey of film buffs including Judd Apatow and Richard Gere.

Time Out London asked 101 industry experts to list their favourite films of all time – and the results were largely free of schmaltz with the top ten including films about failed relationships (Annie Hall, 1977; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004), doomed love (Casablanca, 1942; Brokeback Mountain, 2005), suicide attempts (The Apartment, 1960), cheating partners (In the Mood for Love, 2000) and death (Harold and Maude, 1971).

Click here or on "View Images" for the ten best romantic films in pictures

Despite never having won an Oscar Brief Encounter, directed by David Lean, made it onto 25 of the contributors’ lists, including those of Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James and Four Weddings and A Funeral director Richard Curtis.

The film's sexual tension is played out to the tune of Rachmaninoff's piano concerto number 2 via a series of otherwise innocent exchanges.

Johnson, as Laura Jesson, gets a bit of grit in her eye and Howard, as the handsome doctor Alec Harvey, removes it for her. The relationship that develops between them prompts the immortal line: "It's awfully easy to lie when you know that you're trusted implicitly. So very easy, and so very degrading. " And the most scintillating physical contact between them is a soft shoulder squeeze when Alec is due to say goodbye for the last time and the pair are interrupted by a meddlesome friend.

The Top 10 Best Romantic Films are:

1. Brief Encounter (1945)

2. Casablanca (1942)

3. In the Mood for Love (2000)

4. Annie Hall (1977)

5. Harold and Maude (1971)        

6. Brokeback Mountain (2005)     

7. The Apartment (1960)

8. A Matter of Life and Death (1946)

9. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

10. Punch-Drunk Love (2004)